This analysis was written by John Folk-Williams of www.storiedmind.com. It points out how depression affects those around us. When a person is in serious or major depression, it is hard to see anyone else’s story but his/her own, which makes it incumbent that such a person appeal to all modalities of healing – body, soul, and spirit. I’m not talking about pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, a term that is very offensive to me. I’m talking about making yourself available for healing – with all the tools you can find that will help keep the black dog at bay. That’s what I do as a life coach in helping those who are depressed.
Depression spreads through the closest relationships almost like a communicable disease.
I learned the hard way that the illness didn’t happen to me alone. It happened to my children, my friends, and most of all to my wife.
The pull of depression took me away from her and everyone else. I often felt I was choosing to be alone in order to feel better or to escape situations that seemed too painful to bear. Most of the time, though, I was driven by depression and had little choice.
I may have felt some comfort by being alone, but it didn’t help me get better in the long run. Isolation only deepened depression and imposed a cost on my family. They were exposed to the risk of “catching” it through the changes it brought about in our relationships.
My wife was forced into her own isolation by my withdrawal. She lost the chance to express her feelings when she needed so deeply to connect with me. I was cutting myself off from the emotional flow from her that had changed my life, and she too lost the ongoing influence of my presence.
Even worse, she had no control over the ebb and flow of my feelings. I was completely unpredictable. Depression came and went. I shifted from total withdrawal to spontaneous closeness for no apparent reason.
It was hard for her to trust the relationship, and she became by turns frustrated, hurt, angry.
But how could this experience turn into depression?
A partner in that position feels more and more helpless. Neither the most loving or angriest behavior makes a difference. All the forms of intimacy and ways of talking that have brought two people closer over time now come to nothing.
My wife was left in this position. No matter what she did, I was the one to open the door or close it, and I was reacting to the coming and going of depression. The break between cause and effect often left her feeling helpless – and without hope. More than once, she would say in despair – I give up.